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  1. #1
    IloveTLRs's Avatar
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    Are colored filters for B&W necessary?

    I just bought a beater Ricohflex VI the other day and it came with a yellow filter. I've noticed a lot of my photos looking nicer and am starting to wonder if I should use filters more often.

    Do you consider them necessary for B&W work? Is one not getting the best out of their photos without them? I'd like to hear some opinions on this.

  2. #2

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    Necessary? No. Can they help? Yup. Can they hurt? YUP.

  3. #3
    Kevin Caulfield's Avatar
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    They are not necessary, but they can certainly be handy in enhancing the look of your photos. For some applications, such as using IR film, they are almost essential.

  4. #4
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    I'm addicted to using a light orange filter almost all the time, just because it makes the sky a bit darker (the "blue" can easily disappear otherwise, so clouds and sky are all just a bland white), and overall gives a softer palette. Red is super for portraits because it makes fleshtones smoother and less blotchy. I've used a UV transmissive filter on my Rollei and that's lots of fun - like shooting through a welding glass (lose about 8 stops!) - it has the opposite effect on fleshtones, showing up every freckle and unsightly discolouration...
    And of course a green filter makes men look "swarthy"...

    Marc

  5. #5
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    They are used to alter the color relationships of the light hitting the film. Thus the effect they have depends on what you are shooting. (It helps to understand color photography.) What filters do is pass more of their color on to the film than they do the other colors. Therefore, they darken the tone of that color on the neg, and thus lighten the tone of that color on the print (and vice versa - they pass less of the colors that they are not, thus make them lighter on the neg and darker on the print).

    I would not use them all the time, nor would I *never* use them...unless shooting news journalism. I would say that you should definitely read up on them and experiment with them, but would not make the blanket statement that you should use them more often, or that they are "necessary"...absolutely not.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 06-16-2008 at 01:19 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  6. #6
    IloveTLRs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Zentena View Post
    Can they hurt? YUP.
    Tell me more, stranger ...

  7. #7
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    As far as "can they hurt"...

    If you are not aware of all the effects each one will have, and under what conditions they will have them, you can create tonal relationships that you don't desire.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  8. #8

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    Generally, women are not very happy when you shoot them with a green filter...

    Here's an example; I forgot to take of the yellow-green filter. Not very nice skin tones:
    http://flickr.com/photos/mfnoome/146...7605075492539/
    Last edited by Matthijs; 06-16-2008 at 07:19 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: adding example

  9. #9
    juan's Avatar
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    Hurt - Depending on the quality of the filter, they can also affect the optical characteristics of the image. Some filters are plastic - others are gel between two pieces of glass. Either can become distorted in various ways. They can be scratched. Because they sit out in front of the lens, they can sometimes cause flare and sometimes need a lens shade more than just the lens would.

    In general, use them when you need the effect. They can be useful, but are not necessary.
    juan

  10. #10
    Christopher Walrath's Avatar
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    They can hurt in the hands of the uninitiated. I;ve seen some beautiful clouded landscapes cheesed over by the use of a Red factor 3 where a light yellow would have done the trick. Filters have there place and it is on a subject by subject basis as your interpretation demands its use. No more. If you are going to get more filters, I would suggest adding the lightest blue and red to see what affect they have on your own photography. And that should cover most basic B&W contrast control needs.
    Thank you.
    CWalrath
    APUG BLIND PRINT EXCHANGE
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    "Wubba, wubba, wubba. Bing, bang, bong. Yuck, yuck, yuck and a fiddle-dee-dee." - The Yeti

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